9 Best Subcompact SUVs
Subcompact SUVs are relatively new to the market, but they are quickly growing in popularity. They tend to have lower starting prices than larger SUVs and better fuel economy ratings, all while remaining roomy enough inside for people and their gear. Some models are even quite capable off-road, too.
We’ve rounded up the top nine subcompact SUVs according to our ratings, taking into account safety, quality, technology, and more. These models range from small and sporty to truly luxurious, but all will get the family to school and work, with some room for adventure on the weekend.
No. 8 (Tie): 2017 Subaru Crosstrek
MSRP: $21,695 (Details Below)
The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek is like a door-to-trail running shoe - it has the all-wheel-drive off-road capabilities of a larger crossover SUV, but still has a comfortable ride on paved streets. It has an excellent safety score and was also named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
The base level Crosstrek includes a 6.2-inch screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. Adding the EyeSight advanced safety system, which includes forward collision warning and lane departure warnings, also upgrades the screen to 7 inches.
No. 8 (Tie): 2017 Fiat 500X
MSRP: $19,995 (Details Below)
The 2017 Fiat 500X brings the Italian flair for style and design to a subcompact SUV – and a perfect 10 safety score. Its fuel economy is average for the class – it gets 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with the base engine.
2017 Fiat 500X
The materials used in the 500X interior are well above what you might expect in a subcompact SUV with a starting price below $20,000. But the technology at the base level is paltry, with just a four-speaker stereo and a USB port. Higher trim levels include Bluetooth, voice commands, navigation, and more.
No. 7: 2017 Nissan Juke
MSRP: $20,250 (Details Below)
The 2017 Nissan Juke is as fun to drive as its quirky design suggests. Its standard engine is a turbocharged 1.6-liter with 188 horsepower, but there’s zero turbo lag. The Juke’s stiff suspension gives it a sporty feel, which can translate to a jarring feel on rough roads. But it still turns in 28 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, one of the highest fuel economy ratings in its class.
2017 Nissan Juke
The fun exterior design carries into the interior, but the Juke doesn’t have the rear cargo or passenger space you might expect from an SUV. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, and hands-free text messaging. Navigation and a 360-degree camera are part of the optional Tech Package.
No. 6: 2017 Chevrolet Trax
MSRP: $21,000 (Details Below)
With high safety and reliability scores packed into a subcompact SUV, the 2017 Chevrolet Trax works well for city dwellers. The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is sufficient for town, and has an average for the class fuel economy of 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
2017 Chevrolet Trax
The front seats are supportive and roomy, but the rear seats are lacking in legroom, making them a bit cramped for taller passengers. The Trax comes with a 7-inch display and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
No. 5: 2016 MINI Cooper Countryman
MSRP: $22,750 (Details Below)
MINI’s reputation for fun driving dynamics remains intact with the 2016 MINI Cooper Countryman. The base engine delivers the best fuel economy, at 27 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway, but the turbocharged engines in the Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims deliver more power and better acceleration.
2016 MINI Cooper Countryman
The Countryman’s front seats are very supportive, even for long treks. The rear seats are roomier than you might expect from a MINI, with plenty of space for two adults. HD Radio and Bluetooth are standard, though the MINI’s unique infotainment layout can be confusing to use.
No. 4: 2017 Jeep Renegade
MSRP: $17,995 (Details Below)
The 2017 Jeep Renegade performs as well off-road as it does on pavement – a rare feat, especially for a subcompact SUV. Any Renegade will smooth out streets and highways, but the Trailhawk trim raises the ride height. It adds skid plates and all-terrain tires, and includes full-time four-wheel-drive with low-range gearing.
2017 Jeep Renegade
Clever design touches, like a mud splatter design on the gauges in the instrument cluster, remind you that it’s a Jeep, but the materials are better than merely utilitarian. The base model is lacking in many tech features, but higher trim levels include FCA's Uconnect infotainment system.
No. 3: 2017 Buick Encore
MSRP: $22,990 (Details Below)
The 2017 Buick Encore brings a luxury sensibility to the subcompact class. Its base engine doesn’t handle a full load of people and gear well, but the available 153-horsepower engine solves that problem. The larger engine also uses start-stop technology, meaning it gets better fuel economy than the smaller engine too.
2017 Buick Encore
The Encore’s interior is the most luxurious in the class, with wood and metal trim and Active Noise Cancellation to maintain the quiet interior. Features that are optional in many of its competitors are standard in the Encore, including an 8-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
No. 1 (Tie): 2017 Mazda CX-3
MSRP: $19,960 (Details Below)
Sports car handling and performance mark the 2017 Mazda CX-3, as well as a high safety rating. It’s fun to navigate curves in the CX-3, and it takes the turns without a lot of body roll. It also delivers a comfortable ride, with a suspension that absorbs bumps and holes.
2017 Mazda CX-3
Mazda gave the best seats in the house to front passengers, with plenty of space and support. Rear passengers are going to find their space cramped. Standard tech equipment includes a rearview camera, voice commands, and a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system.
No. 1 (Tie): 2017 Honda HR-V
MSRP: $19,465 (Details Below)
The Honda HR-V ranks near the top of its class for its smooth, comfortable ride, its affordability, and its interior space. The 1.8-liter engine comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but choosing the optional CVT ups the fuel economy enough to make it worth the extra money.
The front seats of the HR-V are comfortable, but the supportive rear seats recline. For maximum rear-seat relaxation, fold the front passenger seat down. The rear Magic Seat can be configured several ways to fit larger or odd-shaped items. The base 5-inch touch screen is small, but it has physical buttons that are easier to use than the larger optional screen.
More Shopping Tools From U.S. News & World Report
With so many subcompact SUVs to choose from, you might need more information to make a decision. Visit our subcompact SUV rankings to learn more about these vehicles. When you’re ready to buy, use our Best Price Program to save thousands off your new car purchase price.